People aren't are only guests at Fort Laramie National Historic Site (FLNHS)-- during the winter we have horses too! Five months out of the year these animals earn their daily hay by working at Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) in Colorado. They put in long days using their strength and mobility to haul loads of dirt, logs, tools, and backcountry cabin supplies in RMNP where vehicles aren't allowed. They are also used by the park's law enforcement staff for patrol and search-and-rescue operations. Come the end of September, when it starts to get cold and snowy, they're ready to be rounded up and hauled to their "Winter Retreat"-- Fort Laramie National Historic Site. They seem to know they're on "vacation" the minute they exit the trailer-- they run and play with anticipation of a long winter of grazing and relaxation.
33 animals are wintered at FLNHS. Included are 2 wild mustangs-- one is named "Nevada" and the other is "Ben". Ben is somewhat famous because he looks like the horse in the 2003 Oscar-nominated, animated movie "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron". The movie is about a wild stallion who travels across the frontiers of the old west-- kind of like Ben. There's also a thoroughbred named "Oliver", and 6 retired animals stay year-round at FLNHS and will enjoy living out their final days at such a beautiful and historic place.
FLNHS has had a working contract with RMNP to board their horses and mules during the winter, because it gets too cold and snowy for work in the Colorado mountains. A Ranger from RMNP named Jack Moomaw, worked as a winter caretaker for FLNHS and came up with the arrangement, which has been in effect since the early 1940's.
During the animals respite, RMNP purchases and delivers 14 tons of certified hay to FLNHS to supplement the feed of their "vacationing" animal crew. Around April RMNP starts getting the animals ready to return to work by sending someone out to trim their hooves and give them a medical check-up. When May arrives it's time to get back to work and leave FLNHS behind until next winter.
In exchange for looking after their animals all winter, RMNP does upkeep and repair on FLNHS's radio system, keeps FLNHS's corrals and fences mended, and produces some of FLNHS's signage in RMNP's sign shop. What a great illustration this is of the cooperation between our National Parks. In my opion, FLNHS gets the better end of the deal. We love seeing the herd grazing in the hills and fields surrounding the fort-- it gives us that wild frontier look!
My favorite time of day is on my way home, when the horses are usually there to greet me along the road. They love when anyone stops to give them some attention! I think they were dissappointed because I didn't bring a carrot or apple to share.
One of the new items we are selling in our Bookstore/Gift is a poster with a soldier riding towards you and Old Bedlam in the background. The text on it says, "The ivory-colored pages of time flutter backwards as history comes whoopin and a hollerin to life in Wyoming. Fort Laramie - Fort Bridger - Fort Caspar - Fort Fetterman-- You could say we're fortified! Pony Express - Oregon Trail - Bozeman Trail--They left an impression on the land...They'll leave one on your heart. Imagine the unimaginable hardships of the pioneers whilst slurping down a cold Sarsaparilla." (Sounds like our Enlisted Men's Bar during the summer-- we sell sarsaparilla!)
Each print has a white border with an actual colored print area of 12" x 15 1/2". The finished size is 16" x 20". Beside posters, it comes in magnet and postcard format also. Prices are as follows: Framed Poster $29.95 Poster $9.95 Magnet $3.95 Postcard $.45 If you are interested in purchasing any of these items, just send us an email and we'll get it shipped to you.